Gorakhpur, December 17: For almost four decades, almost 38 districts of Uttar Pradesh, specially the eastern region faced the fatal scourge of Encephalitis, but thanks to the coordinated, relentless and focussed approach of the Yogi Adityanath government. While the predecessor governments considered the annual fatalities a routine affair and made little efforts to contain the menace that claimed hundreds of innocent lives every year, Yogi Adityanath, after becoming Chief Minister in 2017, has achieved 95 per cent success in making the province encephalitis-free with a string of coordinated and sustained efforts.
While there has been success in the past three years it is pertinent to point out here that the historic success comes even in the background of the global pandemic of Coronavirus, which has strained healthcare like never before. Dengue, Encephalitis, Malaria, Other Vector-Borne Diseases Decline in UP Due to Awareness, Sanitation Drives: Official.
In eastern Uttar Pradesh, in 1978, the vector borne virus disease encephalitis or brain fever had given its first knock. Sadly by 2017 more than 50 thousand children had died untimely or are suffering lifetime of physical and mental disabilities.
In the last three years these figures were reduced to tens of units. It was once a situation when heart-rending scenes could be witnessed at the Baba Raghav Das Medical College, Gorakhpur, which is considered to be the focal point of this epidemic, where two-three kids were spotted lying on one bed fighting against the disease.
Thankfully, with the disease under control now, the beds at the medical facility are empty and the children who are there are being attended to well. All this has been possible due to the sustained efforts of Yogi Adityanath, who has implemented a program of eradication of encephalitis by taking a personal interest in containing this epidemic, always raising voice in the Lok Sabha as an MP earlier and now making it the top agenda after becoming the Chief Minister.
Brain Fever, Now Both Out of Mind and Out of Sight
Japanese encephalitis cases were reported for the first time in eastern Uttar Pradesh in 1978. It was first discovered in 1956 in Tamil Nadu in the country. Since the virus of encephalitis attacks the nervous system, it is known in common parlance as meningitis or meningitis.
Since the disease was new, many people started saying 'Navaki disease' as well. From 1978 to 2016, the four months of mid-June to mid-October were very heavy and tumultuous on the people of Gorakhpur and Basti division, especially the poor rural people.
During the monsoon, the danger was more, because the rainy season is favourable for the virus to flourish. However, after 2017, measures to control encephalitis have shooed away the brain fever.
The Yogi Government Tackled the Epidemic Like This
Yogi Adityanath placed eradication of encephalitis as his top priority as soon as he took command of the government in March 2017. For the first time in 1998, the issue of encephalitis was echoed in the Lok Sabha, then it was initiated by Yogi, who became the first MP.
Since then as a law maker and before becoming Chief Minister in 2017, he has raised his voice on this epidemic in every session of the House for 19 years. To prevent encephalitis, which was synonymous with death for Purvanchal's children,
Yogi also marched more than 10 km on foot from the medical college of Gorakhpur to the District Magistrate and Commissioner office on several occasions in the hot afternoons. His eyes have witnessed the dreadful sight of the dying of the innocent in the medical college, and his heart was also pained by the helpless parents of those children.
Then, it is obvious that it could only have been him, who saw the disease and its menacing death march, to have come up with a better and concrete action plan than Yogi.
Knocking Campaign Became Effective Weapon
In his struggle of two decades on this issue, Yogi Adityanath is deeply aware of the prevention of encephalitis. With his resolve to eradicate the disease, he strongly believed that health services along with cleanliness, pure drinking water and awareness were strong weapons.
With this aim, in his first term, he started a 'Dastak Abhiyan' for prevention of communicable diseases. It was such an initiative of inter-departmental coordination that provided the ink to write the eradication of encephalitis. Departments of Health, Education, Rural Development, Panchayati Raj, Women and Child Welfare etc. were added to the Dastak Abhiyan.
Asha Bahu, Anganwadi workers, ANM, village head, teacher level, the responsibility of making people aware of prevention of encephalitis was fixed. The village-to-village work of pure drinking water and toilets was done in every household. Knocking from house to door prompted the vaccination of children.
This campaign of Yogi Sarkar got a good platform as the Swachh Bharat Mission of the Modi Government was released in 2014. The results of Dastak Abhiyan in the last three years have been fantastic. While vaccination is approaching 100 per cent, fever tracking by Asha Bahu at the village level, government awareness and hygiene efforts have brought down the incidence of encephalitis and death.
Arrangement for Proper Medical Treatment
After becoming the Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath's priority was that not a single encephalitis patient be deprived of treatment. Before things came under his command, the center of treatment of encephalitis in eastern Uttar Pradesh was the medical college of Gorakhpur.
The arrangements were not enough here as compared to the number of patients. He was already aware of this. So with the strengthening of medical services in the medical college, he made such a system that the patient gets proper treatment near the village. In this chain, all community health centers and primary health centers (CHC-PHC) were developed as encephalitis treatment centers and all treatment facilities were ensured.
A total of 23 encephalitis treatment centers, including 9 CHCs and 13 PHCs in Gorakhpur district alone, are putting a check on the disease with adequate facilities. There is a system of mini Piku (Paediatric Intensive Care Unit) at Chaurishaura, Gagaha and Piprauli CHC. Mini Piku has ensured deployment of three paediatricians, four staff nurses, one technician, pharmacist and other staff in addition to three beds and ventilators for the encephalitis sufferers.
In addition, two beds on all PHCs and six beds on all CHCs are reserved for encephalitis patients. The district hospital also has 17 beds for such patients. The abundant availability of medicine and oxygen is ensured at all these places because the Chief Minister takes cognisance of it.
Healthcare Facilities of Medical College Improved
Encephalitis deaths have decreased 80 percent in 2018, 90 in 2019 and 95 percent in 2020. Important contribution in this is the knocking campaign and the medical facilities of the improved medical college in the Yogi government.
Before Yogi Adityanath became the Chief Minister, the number of high dependency units in the encephalitis ward of Baba Raghav Das Medical College was just 6 which has now gone up to 60.
The number of ventilators in the ICU has increased from 60 to 120 and the number of warmers for newborns has increased from 14 to 40. The paediatric department of this college had 154 beds as of 2017, out of which the number is now around 500.
Yogi government's efforts arrested the havoc of brain fever
(Situation of Gorakhpur district, in figures)
Year admitted patient death
2016 655 127
2017 817 114
2018 435 41
2019 262 15
Encephalitis Patients Used to Come From These Districts in BRD Medical College
Apart from Gorakhpur, Deoria, Maharajganj, Kushinagar, Basti, Sant Kabeernagar Siddharthnagar, Encephalitis patients from the districts of Gopalganj, Bagaha, Siwan and Terai of Nepal bordering UP used to come to BRD Medical College for treatment. Due to the efforts of the government in UP, the disease has been controlled, due to better medical facilities at the CHC and PHC level in the districts, there is no need to come to BRD.
Other states should adopt Yogi model to control encephalitis
Senior paediatrician Dr RN Singh of Purvanchal, who is carrying out a massive campaign to eradicate encephalitis, believes that the coordinated effort of the Yogi government has eradicated encephalitis to a great extent.
Yogi had been fighting this battle for two decades, his questions in the Lok Sabha gave a proper platform and voice to the menace. On becoming the Chief Minister, he has managed to control the epidemic by coordinating the contribution of many departments and strengthening the health services.
Since 2018, its cases have decreased continuously. Other states of the country should also adopt the Yogi model for encephalitis control so that it can be eradicated from the entire country, he opined.